From Near to Far: Maria Short and the Places and Spaces of Science in Edinburgh from 1736 to 1850

Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 36 (1):15-47 (2014)
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A relatively unknown woman named Maria Theresa Short opened a popular observatory in 1835 in Ed inburgh - a time and place where men of science and property had long failed to make a viable space for astronomy. She exhibited scientific instruments to a general public, along with a great telescope and a walk-in camera obscura that projected live views of the city and continues to delight audiences to this day. To better understand Short's accomplishments, achieved as scientific and public life became increasingly closed to women, this study explores her largely untold story, and maps some of the places of science around it. Finding local contingencies, multiple sites and practices by diverse groups, it proposes that tensions within the connections between science and spectacle and the use of popularization to promote its professionalization produced gaps that even a marginal figure like Maria Short could inhabit and exploit.


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